Harrison Ford, Virginia Madsen, Paul Bettany
BY LEAH ROZEN
THRILLER

Perseverance is a virtue—one exhibited in abundance by both Ford and his character as they grimly make their way through this dreary and generic thriller. The set-up: an evil smoothie (Bettany) and his gang break into the home of Jack Stanfield (Ford), a computer security expert at a Seattle bank, tie up Jack's wife (Madsen) and two kids and threaten to kill them if Jack doesn't help electronically transfer bank funds into an offshore account.

As Jack tries to outwit the thieves and save his family, it's same-old-same-old. Ford has traveled this road too many times; from the exhausted look on his face and weary posture, he knows it. Firewall's uninspired script boasts not a shred of humor—one desperately misses the tough guy quips that Bruce Willis tosses off in similar films. Heck, even Ford has been known to utter 'em in the past. Forty minutes into Firewall, Madsen says hopefully, "This is all gonna be over soon." You'll find yourself heartily wishing it so. (PG-13)

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Steve Martin, Kevin Kline, Emily Mortimer, Beyoncé Knowles, Jean Reno
COMEDY

The French have a word for it: ooh-la-lame. That sums up this bumptious attempt to relaunch The Pink Panther, the series of comedy films (the first was in 1964) starring Peter Sellers as that dim French bulb, Inspector Clouseau. Here, Martin plays Clouseau and turns him into a twitty bumbler. He gets his chance for glory when Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Klein) summons him from the provinces to Paris to investigate the murder of a famous soccer coach. After much stumbling about—the pratfalls are endless—Clouseau finally solves the case.

Panther, as directed by Shawn Levy (Cheaper by the Dozen), wastes a gifted cast. Martin mugs and adopts an exaggerated French accent, as does pretty much everybody else, to little effect. Kids and fans of excessively broad comedy are likely to be the only ones amused. (PG-13)

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Curious George The mischievous monkey of children's book fame arrives onscreen with simian charm intact. This delightful animated film features solid voice work by Will Ferrell and Drew Barrymore. (G)

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London Rising stars (Chris Evans, Jessica Biel and Joy Bryant) are wasted—literally—in a turgid drama about a guy obsessing over his ex-honey while drinking and drugging. (R)

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Final Destination 3 Multiple teens get killed in semiwitty and bloody ways in a horror film that will please fans of this sort of thing. (R)

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RYAN MERRIMAN At 15, Ryan Merriman played Michelle Pfeiffer's son in The Deep End of the Ocean. Now he gets steady gigs in scary movies. Next up: Final Destination 3.

1 DON'T FEAR THE REAPER (AND EAT A LIGHT LUNCH) His gory death scene in Destination required "a mixture of corn syrup, gelatin, strawberries and little bits of bananas for my brains," says Merriman, 22, who starred in Halloween: Resurrection and The Ring Two. "They actually poured this stuff into my mouth. That was fun."

2 FIND FRIENDS WITH SIMILAR INTERESTS On the set of Home of the Giants, Merriman became golfing buddies with costar Haley Joel Osment of The Sixth Sense. "One day, I was like, 'Dude, I'm sorry, but you've got to say it!' He's like, 'I see dead people?' It was really funny."

3 KEEP THE BOGEYMAN IN ANOTHER AREA CODE "When I'm not doing blood and guts, I'm mowing my yard, playing horseshoes and drinking a beer," says Merriman, who lives in Oklahoma City with wife Micol, 23. "Like a real person."